Finding timeless home furnishings

Tiffany glass lamps, a Sheraton highboy, a Duncan Phyfe pedestal table - these are examples of home furnishings that have stood the test of time. They'll probably look as good 100 years from now as they do today.

Because they don't fall in and out of fashion and because they mix well with other styles, classic designs appeal especially to people who want lasting value.

But how can you be sure what you buy will have that kind of staying power? Consider these guidelines from Burwood Industries:

* Don't buy on impulse. When you see a piece you like, go back to the store several times before deciding. Between visits try to determine how well it stands up in your mind and how it would look in your home.

* Stay with accepted designs, whether traditional or modern. You might want to go to your library and brush up on categories that interest you so you'll be a good judge of design elements and authenticity.

* Evaluate the workmanship. Inspect the piece for quality of construction, finish, and detail. Keep in mind that a ''bargain price'' isn't always what it seems. It can also be an indication that a product won't stand up well.

* Consider the maker. Manufacturers make themselves known through labels, hangtags, or descriptive literature. If you don't find these, ask the dealer for information, including the manufacturer's address.

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